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What About You? Self Care for Funeral Directors

What About You? Self Care for Funeral Directors



Doing it all

By now, as a funeral director, you’ve realized your job is a 24-hour, 365-day responsibility that includes continuous crisis and grief counseling, business management, manual labor, financial advising and family coaching. You have to constantly be empathetic, understanding, courageous, wise and strong as you deal with severe anguish, anger, fear, entitlement, and even ignorance. You have learned to stay calm and serene in the face of the worst adversity; you can work extremely well under intense deadlines; and you have learned to help people laugh throughout the grimmest of situations.

How do you continue to do it all, yet stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy? As in most helping services, funeral directors need to guard against compassion fatigue and burnout, which can happen to anyone at any time. If you’ve been feeling far less energetic or even exhausted, irritable, unable to sleep, physically ill, emotionally bereft, or are just “going through the motions,” you may need to re-evaluate and take stock of how you take care of yourself. In fact, if you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “I just don’t have time to deal with me, I’m perfectly okay,” then we are definitely talking to you.

Carving out time for you

A good place to start is to think about your boundaries. Do you try to handle every little detail of your work, or are you comfortable in delegating responsibilities? Are you a team player or a third-world dictator? While it’s great that you can and have done it all, others want and need to feel included. Ask for help with things you can delegate and then let them help while you schedule in crucial personal time to spend with family, friends or simply alone.

How much time do you spend with your family? Do you even see your kids during the school week? When was the last time you talked to your mother or had lunch with your best friend? It is important for you to stay connected to family and friends. Make it a priority to set aside time for your loved ones (perhaps Tuesday evening pizza, a Saturday night date, or every other Sunday evening at dad’s) and focus on your relationships instead of that “to do” list at work. Get that family vacation or sight-seeing tour planned and then go because your mental and emotional stability are vital for your future.

Taking care of you

It is also important to maintain your physical well-being through proper diet, exercise and enough sleep. As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” Even if you can’t eat perfectly, you can usually start making a few better choices. Being healthy on the inside will give you energy to do the things on the outside you need to get done. Exercise will strengthen you physically, but it also helps relieve depression and makes you feel good emotionally. Sleep is rejuvenating and essential. A constant lack of sleep will wear down even the fittest person in a very short time. Proper nutrition, exercise and enough sleep are an inseparable trio in our balanced life plan.

So take a few minutes right now (before you get busy again and forget), and make a list of demands on your professional and personal life. Include your responsibilities for work, family, school, community, health and friends. Look carefully at what is dragging you down and what is the most important to your overall well-being. Learn to say “no” when needed, and most importantly, accept that it is okay to take some time for you. You need it and deserve it.


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